REVIEW: ‘Maude – Grab (rclsdrvr rmx)’ – Reclusedriver

Davao-based Ceejay Sagarino’s electronic side project, Recluse Driver, is a collage of nu wave and disco-infused tracks sampled from a wide range of influences, mostly deriving from her favorite films. It’s quite impossible not to do some shoulder-shimmying or bust a move when you happened to spend some time on her SoundCloud account. There’s a distinct difference between her personal work and as Recluse Driver, the latter being more ‘now’-driven, depending on what’s on her mind at the time. The sonicscapes of Recluse Driver shifts from 8-bit samples to whitewashed synths. It complements her personal work in a way that it gives an in-depth peek to the things that inspire her oeuvre.

Her take on Maude’s ‘Grab,’ a track from the band’s debut album, Pelota Court, diverts from the hefty guitar- and drum-work of the original. She steered it to a full-blown elctro-R&B, downtempo direction, subtly reminiscent of Anoraak and Autre Ne Veut. It’s a refreshing alternative, much like her entire body of work so far.

(P.S. I remember Ian telling me about her and I am just scurrying to the party – never too late to enjoy Ceejay’s music, which I hope I can listen to live in the near future.)

Photo above courtesy of Amelia Rose Baird.

Check out Ceejay Sagarino (also as Recluse Driver) on SoundCloud.

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RAVE: ‘Sila’ – SUD

I first came across Sud when their track, ‘Smilky,’ was released and garnered praise from Vandals on The Wall and subsequently, Radio Republic. It’s the type of song that’s inherently sensual – so as the rest of their 2013 EP, Sleep Sex – a cocoon of indie rock and soul sensibilities that replicate the atmosphere of a good night out with someone whom you have an affection for. Or, okay, someone you love. It goes from a Japandroids-esque opener to a Bobby Womack climax.

I remember I was raving about it when Bel mentioned Sud Ballecer, the vocalist, and he promised to give me a copy of their EP. I was floored. The tragedy of this whole thing is that I haven’t watched them (from a long list of bands) perform live EVER.

And then I saw this link on Facebook. A live performance of one of their demos that Bel heard a while back and told me about (which, of course, I forgot). I was at the office and I was completely stunned. It felt like I was being serenaded. I know, it sounds chummy, but it was like that when I first listened to it.

Walang sagot sa tanong

Kung bakit ka mahalaga

Walang papantay sa’yo

Maging sino man sila

I have to watch this band.

Video courtesy of Lih Ocampo.

Here’s their EP, Sleep Sex, which you can download for free via Bandcamp.

Check them out on Facebook

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RAVE: Tubby Trousers’ Vol. 4 – ‘Deconstructing the Multiverse’

Check out Tubby Trousers’ just-released fourth compilation, ‘Deconstructing the Multiverse,’ which you can download for free via Bandcamp. I personally love these Tubby Trousers’ playlists, which I discovered while compiling my own monthly playlists for For this year, it consists of 33 spankin’ cool tracks from local artists of different genres like punk rock, indie folk, indie pop, post-punk, and more!

You can also check their Bandcamp page to listen to and download the previous three albums dating back to 2008 (a year after Joe de Jesus started Tubby Trousers). Enjoy!

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RAVE: ‘森の言葉’ – MARTER

When Gep [Macadaeg, drummer of Autotelic] shared the link for this music video, I was anticipating some instrumental rock sound to flood my eardrums. I haven’t heard of the song nor of the band before, so I was assuming a Japanese math rock band. When the video began playing, there was a rush of soothing chill that ran down to my back. The track was laidback, downtempo, and utterly swabe. 

森の言葉 is part of neosoul and R&B Japanese band, MARTER’s new album, Songs of Four Seasons, which was recently released under Jazzy Sport.

You can buy the 10-track album on iTunes and Amazon.

Here’s a teaser for the album.

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ALAALA: True Faith Tribute Night

Okay, confession time.

I am not entirely familiar with True Faith’s music. Sure, I know the hits: ‘Huwag Na Lang Kaya’ and ‘Dahil Ikaw.’ But even that, I remember from some faraway memory of childhood, of hearing their songs on TV, radio, or an old movie. I’m sure my mom and my uncles do. But if there was ever a more perfect time to learn more about them, it’s during this special tribute night that will happen on the 30th of October in Route 196 in Katipunan.

I remember it was during after a gig in SaGuijo (I think it was a year ago, or early this year) when my good friend, Bel [Certeza of Indie Manila], told me about her plan to produce a True Faith tribute gig for her mom, who was a great fan of the band. I personally think it’s one of the loveliest gestures one can do for a parent. In Bel’s case, it was through their shared love for music, for True Faith.

So I’d like to personally invite each one of you to celebrate the memory of Bel’s mom and the timeless music of True Faith, which will be performed by some of the bands the we love, on Thursday, October 30, on Route 196, Katipunan Ext., Quezon City. Show starts at 8 PM. Bring your friends, your loved ones, your parents and come share the love with us. See you there!

This event is brought to you by Vandals on The Wall and Indie Manila. A huge thanks to the media sponsors, Radio Republic, DIG Radio, Pinoytuner,, and Poster by Larry Cayco.

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TRACK: ‘Planet #2′ – The After-School Special

Fresh from his recent trip in Korea, Anton Salvador documented his trip sonically, capturing a mood somewhat less frenetic than one would usually expect when you think of the country, especially its music industry (which he clarified prior to releasing the track). ‘Planet #2’ is – no pun intended – spacey. Its drifting and soothing quality makes you think of old, charming villages, artisan workshops, and traditional comforts from this side of the world, away from the bustling and commercialized spotlight of Korea’s capital, Seoul. At least, it’s how the track’s story appeals to me. Nevertheless, this new offering from Anton Salvador’s side project as The After-School Special has culminated an experience and has shared it in a way that we can see what he saw, taste what he tasted, and feel what he felt.

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TRACK: ‘Pupa’ – Similarobjects

Similarobjects is known for the wide range of textures, moods, and ambiances incorporated in his sound. While his signature style is firmly embedded in each track he releases, one will find a varying, or rather, evolving dimension, which is precisely (or coincidentally) denoting his newest track: Pupa.

In here, Jorge explores the symbiosis of sounds that attributes to changes. Like how an organism of any kind – especially people – reaches the point where progress is essential for growth. Same as how the track became fully realized at the end, the dynamics shift from quaint to exhilarating and vice-versa – accentuated with percussions and ambient soundscapes. Also released on his birthday, it’s rather symbolic on his journey as a musician and as a whole person. And he’s taking us with him through his craft.

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VIDEO: ‘Three’ – Earthmover

It goes without saying that Earthmover’s ability as artists (and as live performers) transcends their music in however way they fashion it. From the gentle opening to the explosive breakout, their songs are structured to progress. You, as a listener, might anticipate it, but the actualization of being able to fully absorb the tenacity of Earthmover’s sound is still ever sweeping.

But perhaps one of Earthmover’s strengths as musicians is how they can widen the range of their songs in the matter of delivering it beyond the recorded form. The band already has a foothold of being a conscientious, deeply enthralling music-makers, but, as displayed in their performance of ‘Three’ during their opening set for the Caspian and So I Watch You From Afar show, Earthmover has proven, once again, that their music, whether live or recorded, pushes sonic bounds.

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TRACK: ‘$alty’ – OJ River

Listening to upcoming hip-hop artist OJ River’s “$alty” feels like simultaneously getting hypnotized and sucked in some limbo space. There’s a sheer calm in it, devoid of overbeat, overused, tripped-out techniques – almost bored, but not lazy or sloppy. There’s a faint echo of Earl Sweatshirt and Flying Lotus in it somewhere, with a clever glitchy loop (like a psychedelic version of morse code) and occasional abstract scratches produced by Neil Raymundo, known as SPNZ. Witty at times and chilly all over, “$alty” is just a swirl, good kind of fun. That is, if you let him and his boxes of goods– in.

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ALBUM: ‘be/ep’ – BP Valenzuela

The first few seconds of “Geomorph”, be/ep’s opening track, is vividly reminiscent of a post-night out rendezvous done in a whim, crafted with Oriental strings at the backdrop, like a haphazard affair in the vein of a Wong Kar-wai feature. The second song, “Building”, seamlessly follows, clearly yearning for intimacy but with an echo of fear and reticence.

B.P. Valenzuela gives us a glimpse of her thought process, a window to her feelings even, sprawled on her lyrical poetry fashioned after the paradoxical and unconventional e.e. cummings– a poet she confessed to be an inspiration to her songwriting. Hers, however, is more reserved. As outlandish her champion can be on overtly narrating the physical ways of expressing romance, her style is more taciturn but still maintains an impressionistic approach; like a timid woman who fills notebooks upon notebooks of poems and confessions she dare not utter with an audience. But that’s how the quality of her work shines: in its uncompromised honesty. After all, she chose to probe into the core of music’s lifeblood: the state of being. Being in love, specifically. In “The General Scheme of Things”, a personal favorite, she examines the larger picture. Not in the manner of demystifying the unknown, but almost like sitting down under a tree, alone, and just mull life in general without any pressure.

There are faint similarities between her melodies, especially in “All That You Are” and Coldplay’s cathartic, lesser known songs in Parachutes. Her electronic arrangements lean towards a mixture of Brian Eno, Daughter, and Love in Athens, except maybe in the closing track, “Second Nature”, where she vaguely reminds me of Neko Case. That said, B.P. Valenzuela is a fledgling entity of her own, with a long musical background that was initially spent discovering her own voice and though playing guitars for bands over the years. It’s clear with Be/Ep that she sees the world through rose-colored glasses, never to be the pragmatic one, and will almost always be caught up in the whirl of neoclassicism, restoring and embedding fragments of her life and its lessons to her music, and maybe, truly, in the general scheme of things.

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